President & CEO
Rich is the President and CEO of College Success Arizona, where he leads the organization toward its goal of assisting all Arizonans in gaining access to and successfully attaining a postsecondary credential. He is a community leader and advocate for increasing public awareness around the tremendous economic and social benefits of creating more degree earners in Arizona, especially for high-need, first generation, and minority students.
Rich brings 23 years of government, corporate and nonprofit experience, much of that in senior leadership roles across the country. He has invested the majority of his career leading organizations and service-related businesses in the financial services and education finance arenas.
Prior to his role at College Success Arizona, Nickel served as president of USA Funds Services, and as senior vice president in charge of Sallie Mae’s servicing relationship with the U.S. Department of Education. division at SLM Corporation.
Rich’s first role in the Phoenix area was in 2002, where he served in executive positions with Southwest Student Services Corporation (SSSC), including as president of Southwest Student Services Corporation. Rich was part of the team that transitioned Southwest to create Arizona’s largest education foundation, the Helios Education Foundation.
Nickel has been a member of numerous collaborations and associations for higher education professionals, and currently serves as a Board Member on the Arizona Town Hall. In partnership with a broad statewide alliance of organizations, Rich also helps lead the recently launched, community-owned state attainment initiative known as Achieve60AZ. Rich takes a special interest in the strategic workgroup that helped set the 60% goal, and will recommend policy and programs that align the state’s economic development and labor needs, with increased attainment.
Rich is originally a “Wildcat.” He and his family came to Arizona via the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1990 from the University of Kentucky.